Presenting at ISA 2017 in Baltimore

I look forward to presenting my latest research at the International Studies Association’s Annual Convention 2017 in Baltimore this week.

Panel: Social media and activism – Power and resistance in the 21st Century

When: Thursday, February 23rd, 8:15am – Where: Marriott, Stadium 4 room

This paper, which I wrote together with Paul Reilly (Information School, University of Sheffield) and Mariana Leyton-Escobar (School of Communication, American University), compares online crowd-sourced advocacy efforts that use personal stories of disabilities to affect key public debates in the UK and the U.S., including recent virtual protests that followed the inauguration of U.S. president Donald Trump as part of the Women’s March on Washington (January 2017). Here is a copy of the abstract:

Storytelling transcends cultures. It can speak to global audiences, change public attitudes, serve as policy evidence, and challenge dominant media narratives on sensitive social issues. Thus, advocacy organizations and activist networks increasingly use social media to crowd-source, co-create, and distribute personal stories, which originate in the private sphere and become public narratives online. Yet, story-based advocacy is also controversial as sharing the intimate accounts of groups that have been discriminated against may foster further stigmatization. Communication scholars have yet to discuss the implications of this global advocacy trend for digital citizenship. Whose voices do we really hear in online stories? How are they collected, edited, and re-mediated? Ultimately, who is empowered by this approach? To address these questions, this paper compares the use of personal stories in online disability rights campaigns in the UK and the United States. By combining the analysis of blog posts and YouTube videos featuring stories of disability with interviews with leading advocates in both countries, different digital storytelling practices are revealed. In particular, a trade-off between maintaining spontaneity and editing personal accounts to achieve policy effectiveness is identified and discussed in the context of different political cultures, media systems, ethical principles, and policy-making traditions.

On February 21st, I also discussed my recent book “Disability Rights Advocacy Online: Voice, Empowerment and Global Connectivity” (Routledge 2016) as part of the ISA working group on Accelerating Change in Global Governance: Enhancing the Participation of Excluded and Marginalized Voices Through Information and Communication Technology.

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New Chapter in “Protest, Politics, Emotion” Book of Blogs

I was delighted to contribute one short article about the digitalization of disability rights advocacy to “Politics, Protest, Emotions: Interdisciplinary Perspectives.” This book, which is edited by Paul Reilly (University of Sheffield), Anastasia Veneti (Bournemouth University) and Dimitrinka Atanasova (Queen Mary, University of London), was published earlier this week and includes contributions by 37 academics around the globe who study the nexus between emotions, grassroots activism, and information technology. Students of political science and strategic communication who are interested in grassroots mobilization dynamics, online advocacy and organizing will find the case studies reviewed in this book to be both accessible and highly relevant to their work. The book can be accessed freely here and downloaded as a in pdf format here. My article (#32) can be found here.

The Google Voter: New Article in Information, Communication & Society

Earlier this month, the journal Information, Communication & Society published the paper “The Google Voter: Search Engines and Elections in the New Media Ecology,” of which I am the lead author. This article, which can be accessed freely on the journal’s website,  discusses some of the main research findings from the VoterEcology project, on which I collaborated with Profs. Andrew Hoskins (University of Glasgow) and Sarah Oates (University of Maryland, College Park), as well as Dr. Dounia Mahlouly (King’s College, London). The paper fills an important gap in our understanding of contemporary information-gathering practices and media environments that surround elections, focusing on the use of search engines by voters in the U.S. and the UK. While search engines remain the primary channel for citizens in these and other democratic countries to engage with election-related information online, there is a dearth of research about the implications of this practice. This paper combines Google Trends data with the analysis of news media coverage to shed light on the opportunities and drawbacks generated by search engine use in elections and reflects on the need to develop innovative methodologies capable of exploring the new media ecologies that are emerging from the interaction of novel and more established forms of media.

“Brexit” on American Media

On June 23rd, 2016, a majority of Britons voted to leave the European Union (EU). In this brief analysis piece, I reflect on how news media in the United States covered this unexpected result. While American journalists sought to apply familiar templates to communicate the upcoming EU referendum to domestic audiences, they may find it difficult to do so going forward as the UK-EU negotiations move into unchartered territory. This article is part of a large report on the EU referendum, media, and voters edited by Dan Jackson, Einar Thorsen, and Dominic Wring and published by the Political Studies Association, Bournemouth University, and the University of Loughborough. You can access the full report for free here.

Presenting at ICA 2016 Preconference

I look forward to presenting some new work on promotional tactics in disability rights advocacy at the 2016 ICA Preconference “Powers of Promotion.” The preconference, which is sponsored by ICA’s Political Communication, Popular Communication, and Public Relations sections, will be held at the Embassy of Finland in Tokyo, Japan on June 8th. You can access a copy of the program here and follow the conference on Twitter at #powersofpromotion.

UK 2015 Election Report – Now out!

Surprised by the result of the 2015 UK General Election? Find out what happened behind the scenes in a new report published by Bournemouth University’s Media School together with the Political Studies Association. “UK Election Analysis 2015: Media, Voters and the Campaign” can be found here. It was edited by the indefatigable Dan Jackson and Einar Thorsen, and includes contributions from 91 UK academics in the fields of communication, media studies, journalism, and political science. I contributed an overview on the UK Independence Party (UKIP)’s popularity ratings among British Google users prepared together with Paul Reilly at the University of Leicester. This considers the rise of UKIP as a popular (and populist) “brand” among wired voters (and non-voters).

ISA 2015 Paper

Sadly, other work commitments have kept me from attending the 2015 International Studies Association’s Convention in New Orleans in person this week (this is after participation to another conference in NOLA in 2012 was cancelled due to a hurricane! I start to wonder if I will ever make it to the Big Easy?!). However, my co-author Dr Paul Reilly was there to present our latest joint effort, which focused on the popularity of populist parties in Italy (Five Star Movement) and the UK (United Kingdom Independence Party) among Google users during the 2014 European Parliament election campaign.

The poster, entitled “Populist and Popular? Tracking Citizen Interest in Anti-Establishment Parties with Google Trends”, can be downloaded here.

Paper Accepted for ISA 2015 Convention

Just got news that the paper I proposed for next year’s International Studies Association’s (ISA) Annual Convention together with Paul Reilly (University of Leicester) was accepted. The title is “Populist and Popular: Using Google Trends to Track and Conceptualize Emerging Transnational Trends in Democratic Politics.” This study continues my working paper series on blending search engine data drawn from Google Trends with established political communication methods to explore emergent global phenomena in democratic politics such as the rise of populist parties and movements. Bring on New Orleans in February then, especially considering the pouring Glasgow rain outside my office window at the moment!

Book Contract with Routledge: Disability Rights Advocacy and New Media in Britain and America

I am thrilled to say that I have signed a contract to publish my first book in the “Routledge Studies in Global Information, Politics, and Society” series edited by Ken Rogerson (Duke University) and Laura Roselle (Elon University). The book is entitled “Disability Rights Advocacy and New Media in Britain and America” and builds on my doctoral research. This work, which will be released in 2016, explores whether the Internet can re-configure political participation and policy-making to be more inclusive experiences for users with disabilities, enhancing their stakes in democratic citizenship.